Minister 'excited' by Suter plans

JAMES GREENLAND
Last updated 13:00 04/02/2013

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Plans for the redevelopment of Nelson's Suter Art Gallery continue to move forward, after a brief visit from the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Chris Finlayson.

The Suter was closed on Saturday morning while Mr Finlayson toured the historic gallery, paying close attention to its back rooms and storage facilities.

The Nelson City Council has put aside $6.5 million for the Suter's redevelopment in its long-term plan, but the total cost is expected to reach close to $10.5m.

Redevelopment project trustees hope the Government will cover that shortfall with money from the regional museums fund, administered by Mr Finlayson.

Mr Finlayson said it was important that every region in the country have a top-quality art gallery.

"In my view, it's essential, not just for the region, but for New Zealand, that this art gallery be brought up to standard.

"I always worry about the storage facilities. I think some parts of it desperately need immediate renovation."

A change in focus by Te Papa in Wellington meant regional galleries and museums around New Zealand would be hosting some of the national museum's exhibitions this year.

"It follows from that that the institutions that receive them have to have the necessary facilities.

"I am excited by the plans I have seen, but, putting aside the externalities that most people see, it's the storage and the air-conditioning and stuff like that which really does need a pretty urgent upgrade."

He did not believe that supporting the redevelopment plan was in contradiction with the Government's message to councils to limit non-essential spending.

"I think that these are facilities that are good for the community and good for tourism."

Mr Finlayson was shown around by Craig Potton, chairman of the Bishop Suter Trust, Marc Barron, representing the project's architects, and gallery director Julie Catchpole.

"We are delighted that the minister has been able to come and see first hand the Suter redevelopment plans," Mr Potton said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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